By Justin Richmond
t can be quite jarring, the first few moments of witnessing what is unfolding on the stage. But, it doesn’t take long to realize that you are in the hands of masters of the craft. Scotty Jenkins and John Puddington bring “Greater Tuna” to life at the Ouachita Little Theatre with their tour de force performances.
Set in the fictional town of Tuna Texas, the third smallest town in the state, the pair play a multitude of characters, male and female, following the death of Judge Buckner. Through this fever dream kaleidoscope of obtuse accents, colorful costume changes, perfectly timed dialogue and witty satire, the OLT seems to have found it’s messiah after the long determined struggle to entertain our community safely during this covid crisis. One can only hope this marks the beginning of the normal lineup of shows.
For John, what made this opportunity so enticing was the freedom that comes with being able to create the characters he plays. “The task of creating characters is what the job is all about. You’re not just using your personality, that’s boring, there is no art to that. Something like this is fun because you’re able to play like a child, because you’re able to create.”
One of the most commendable feats of the show is the speed at which the cast changes in and out of their costumes.
Scotty relays “There is a certain scene in which I play four separate characters. We have to wear our costumes in layers so we can keep up with the script.”
Of course this incredible feat would not be possible without the help of the show’s costumers, Sharon Hose, Ann Glenn, Debbie Thompson, along with Tia and Angel Moe. With a little help from local legend Brad Story, John and Scotty are sure to bring laughter and a much needed smile to all who come to watch the show.
Audience members will quickly recognize all the effort, planning, and hard work that goes into putting on the community entertainment at the Ouachita Little Theatre.
The amount of heart that each one of these individuals puts into a show is more than commendable. Not just by the beloved actors and directors, but the entire board as well, which include: Rudi Timmerman, Judy and Jessica Kropp, Julie Ulmer, and Lamar Austin. Beneath all the technicalities there is so much love and passion for our community. We often forget what a joy it can be to escape our life for a moment, to take a break from all of our worries. What better way than to experience live art just a few feet in front you?
The Ouachita Little Theatre is one of the many hidden treasures of Mena, Arkansas, and “Greater Tuna” is for certain their latest gem. Performances will be April 16 & 17 at 7:30 p.m., and April 18 at 2:30 p.m. Don’t forget to bring a friend, and your mask!